DaMarcus Beasley was 16 years old when he first encountered Bruce Arena in 1999. Two years later, Arena called Beasley up to the US national team as they combined for the first of three World Cup qualifying campaigns, concluding with a loss in Couva, Trinidad, in 2017.
They were reunited when Arena’s Revolution defeated the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night, a game that likely marked their last meeting on the playing field. Beasley, who started at left back for the Dynamo, plans to retire after this season and Arena has taken on a new project as sporting director/head coach of the Revolution.
“I think he’s beaten me every time I’ve played against him,” Beasley said. “Think I got a draw a couple times. Bruce, he’s a smart coach, knows what he’s doing, and it was great to play for him. I’ve known him since I was , he’s grown as a coach, he’s a lot better coach than he was back then. Still the same Bruce. It’s always a pleasure seeing Bruce, he’s one of the guys that, basically, started my career.”
Arena’s return to coaching did not surprise Beasley.
“He likes a challenge, he’s a competitor,” Beasley said. “Same thing with the national team. The team was down two games, they hadn’t won, it was an uphill battle to try to get the team to qualify. Obviously, didn’t qualify, but it was a challenge. Now, it’s another challenge. I’m sure he has things in place he wants to improve for the club and I’m sure he will but, yeah, he’s a smart guy. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing and good luck to him.”
Beasley made his first appearance in Foxborough with the Chicago Fire opposing a Revolution team that included his older brother, Jamar, in the 2000 MLS playoffs. DaMarcus Beasley went on to compete in five countries before returning to MLS in 2014. Arena is not the only coach to have Beasley’s number. Beasley’s MLS teams have compiled a 1-9-0 record in Foxborough, though he had success with the US at Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium, going 5-1-1 and scoring four goals.
Beasley, 37, combined with Landon Donovan on US youth teams, then helped the Arena-coached US reach the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.
“Playing for Bruce is fun, it’s a very relaxed environment,” Beasley said. “He knows how to get the most out of his players. Not many coaches can do that. For me, he’s hands-down one of the best coaches, not just in America, one of the best coaches, period.”
“No, no coaching for me,” Beasley said. “I’ll definitely do something different. Won’t be any coaching in my retirement.”
Weymouth-born Samantha Mewis is proving to be one of the most accomplished of a long line of local players, starting for the US in the Women’s World Cup. Boston–area women’s soccer traces origins to the early 1900s, the game being played in colleges, high schools, and prep schools. In the 1920s, the South Boston Ladies SC competed at Columbus Park, though there is little documentation of the team’s exploits, according to Richard Johnson, curator of the New England Sports Museum.
In 1922, the touring Dick, Kerr Ladies of Preston, England, played several games against American Soccer League professional men’s teams. Earlier that year, the South Boston Ladies SC competed against men’s teams, according to the Boston Globe archives. The South Boston Ladies took a 6-5 win over the South Boston Rangers and sustained a 5-2 loss to the 110th Cavalry.
The South Boston star was outside right Marcella Donovan, a sprinter who won the 60-yard dash in the 1922 New England AAU meet at Franklin Park.
The Dick, Kerr team competed from 1917-65. South Boston women’s games appear to have been contested from 1922-24.
In the first two weeks of July 1994, Italy defeated Nigeria and Spain in the knockout rounds of the World Cup at Foxboro Stadium. The winning goal in both games was scored by Roberto Baggio. Meanwhile, Romario was scoring key goals as Brazil advanced. The Brazilians then defeated Italy on penalty kicks, Romario converting and Baggio skying Italy’s last attempt, in the final at the Rose Bowl.
Now, a winger named Jean Romario Baggio Rakotoharisoa is playing for Madagascar in the African Nations Cup. Madagascar has been a surprise, qualifying for the tournament for the first time, and going unbeaten in group play, including a 2-0 win over Nigeria.
Rakotoharisoa’s older brother is John Baggio, who plays for Sukhotai FC in Thailand.